Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Denying Holocaust

Yesterday an Austrian court imposed a three-year sentence on David Irving for denying the Holocaust.
In 1989 Irving claimed that gas chambers never existed in Holocaust and that Hitler knew very little about the camp. He has later changed his views due to knew documents he has read and now admits that Nazis systematically killed millions of Jews. Read more in BBC.
The fact that in European Union a person can be jailed for three years just for denying facts, puts into doubt the very principles of democracy - the right for opinion, freedom of speech, and the belief that arguments give rise for broader understanding of world around us, including history.
In no way did Irving in his lecturers or writings ever encourage any hatred or violence towards any group of society, he just thought that the gas chambers in Holocaust did not exist. He was wrong, of course, but there should be sufficient evidence to prove that, without having to lock him up. The very basis of democratic society is built on the premise that there are no dogmas and everything can and even should be doubted. Were it not so, we would still know for sure that god exists and anybody denying that would be jailed.
The fact that there are 11 countries with laws against Holocaust denial (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Isreal, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland), all of them democratic states, also mocks other countries' attempts to explain the publishing of the Mohammad cartoons as a freedom granted by the very cornerstones of democratic philosophy. If we want to promote freedom of speech, we have to do so consistently. So far these 11 countries are undermining this effort. It is time the laws against denying the Holocaust are scrapped for the benefit of freer world.


Lauri said...


Lothar Hobelt, an associate professor of history at the University of Vienna, believes it should never have been set up at all.

"This is a silly law by silly people for silly people," he said.

In a history test back in middle school I sort of remember myself having a hard time remembering what the word Holocaust stood for. There might have been legal ground to hang me had I been in Austria :)

almns said...

sorry for a late response but lithuania does not have a law against holocaust denial, just against the religious insults.